Over the summer a number of interesting casting calls and subsequent choices are always announced, but the most interesting developments I’ve been following are those in the ongoing process to cast the HBO pilot Game of Thrones. Initial announcements that Sean Bean and Peter Dinklage would appear in major roles excited fans, but casting news soon dried up after reports that HBO was upset about the leaked names and was searching for the culprit behind them. However George R.R. Martin, the author of the fantasy series Game of Thrones is based on, was aware of who had been cast in seven of the show’s roles and has been offering fans clues throughout the week on his Not a Blog. Unfortunately, what he couldn’t offer fans was any idea of just when an official announcement confirming their suspicions would be made.
Tonight’s announcement of the actors and actresses cast in many pivotal roles in the series comes as a relief for fans, who have been madly working through Martin’s clues in an attempt to figure out the casting choices to date. While official confirmation in itself is great news for fans, especially for this TV enthusiast who leaves for a week’s vacation on Saturday and feared the casting might occur while without Internet, the more impressive achievement is that the fans over at Winter Is Coming managed to collectively puzzle out who had been cast in each of the five adult roles!
Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has been cast as Jaime Lannister, the twin brother of Queen Cersei and a Knight of the Kingsguard who earned the nickname “Kingslayer” after he killed the Mad King Aerys. Waldau starred in the short-lived American series New Amsterdam and had a role in the Fox TV movie Virtuality.
Tamzin Merchant, who most recently appeared in The Tudors as Henry VIII’s fifth wife Catherine Howard, will play the exiled Princess Daenerys Targaryen, while Scottish actor Iain Glen (Into the Storm) has been cast as Ser Jorah Mormont, an exiled knight who becomes Daenerys’ trusted companion.
Rounding out the new additions to the cast are Richard Madden (Hope Springs), as Robb, Ned Stark’s eldest son and heir to Winterfell, and Alfie Allen, better known as the younger brother of singer Lily Allen, as Theon Greyjoy, Ned’s ward and hostage. Newcomers Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams will play Ned’s daughters Sansa and Arya Stark respectively.
Fan reaction to the casting choices has been mixed, with some very positive comments about the casting choices and some cautious about giving their approval. As is often the case when a character is described as “handsome” or “beautiful” in the text, there is some debate over whether or not the actors and actresses cast have the right look for their roles. However, the cast have Martin’s seal of approval. He recently posted, “Yes, I’m thrilled with this cast. David and Dan and Tom and casting director Nina Gold are assembling a terrific group of actors”. Martin has begun to post on each of the chosen actors explaining the clues that he gave and reassuring fans that Alfie Allen’s reading for Theon was strong.
Commenting on the two unknown actresses, Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner, Martin wrote, “Maisie brought Arya alive in a way that none of the other kids could match, right from the first. Sophie read two scenes; the scene with Arya on the kingsroad, and a much later one… two very different sides of the character. She knocked ’em both out of the park.”
My Thoughts: I can’t speak to acting ability, as I’ve only seen the actors in snippets on youtube since they were cast, but I think Coster-Waldau looks like a perfect Jaime. He’s handsome, appears to be charismatic, and after watching a fanvideo on youtube that Martin linked to I’m convinced that this is the Jaime I pictured when reading the novels.
I like Tamzin Merchant but The Tudors didn’t give her much of a chance to act beyond playing the seductress. She’s not the most classically beautiful girl but I can see her working very well in the role if she has the acting ability and I trust George Martin and the casting team who have assembled such a wonderful group so far.
Richard Madden and Iain Glen both look the part, although again I haven’t seen either of them act, and Martin’s comments about Williams and Turner have me convinced that they will be great. I think Alfie Allen is the one I’m least sure about. He doesn’t fit the image I had of Theon, but then Theon has never been my favourite character or one that I considered particularly interesting. However, if George Martin believes he did a great job then I’m sure that we have nothing to worry about.